Restaurants & Bars 1

Houston's Candelari's Pizzeria - linguini vs. spaghetti vs. Aunt Hanna RIP

avi | Jul 31, 200312:25 AM

Following Robb Walsh's lead, I visited the newly opened Candelari's Pizzeria on Bissonette and was, in general, not disappointed with his judgment.

Wanting to try the Italian sausage that Robb had so raved about, but not feeling up to pizza, I compromised by ordering spaghetti and the said sausage.

The order came with a house special ceaser salad, which, I was told, was outstanding, and in reality was just good enough. The spaghetti turned out to be a very generous portion of just right al dente linguini with rather mild tasting Italian sausage slices mixed in. Not at all the strong, fennel-laden aromatic whole sausages I had fantasized about, but very nice anyway. The two huge buttered slices of bread accompanying the meal were too much and too greasy. But the kicker was the sauce: thick and plentiful, mixed in with a big kitchen spoon - not ladled on like some thin marinara wanna be - looking almost like canned raw tomato paste, but very tasty. All in all, the entrée had that modest home made look and feel, as if my wife had served it in our kitchen. The bill, including ice tea, came to a reasonable $7.50.

I was assured by the cook that everything, except the pasta, was made on the premises from scratch ('Even the tomato paste?’ I wondered, but didn't ask). I concluded that my entree was made with fixings that had been prepared for pizza and thrown together for my benefit. I guess they must do mostly pizza.

My Aunt Hanna's service, by the way, was far better than Candelari’s. She would watch her guests like a hawk would a chicken, ever ready to pounce with more food while cooking the upcoming courses in her adjacent open cubbyhole of a kitchen and carrying on with the endless barrage of questions and unsolicited advice for which she was famous. Candelari's lack of attention to me was probably due to the fact that it was 4PM, I was the only diner, the owner was gone, and the staff was busy in the kitchen or smoking at the outside tables. It is on such occasions that I miss my Aunt Hanna, RIP, even more than usual. She was a very experienced hostess and did not specialize in take out.

Now, a question: what's the difference between spaghetti and linguini, aside from the shape? Are they interchangeable, or are there tradition uses for each?

There is one more difference between my Aunt Hanna’s kitchen and Candelari’s: Hanna had a mustache. And she smoked only after the guests had left the table.

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